Advani’s Rath Yatra gave rise to terrorism

New Delhi: A meeting on ‘Tracing Sangh Terror Trail and Stories of Innocent Muslim Boys’ was organised by the civil rights group Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) at Delhi’s Constitution Club on 28 January. It was attended by politicians, civil society activists, journalists and persons as well as representatives of those who have been wrongly accused of terror links. The common theme and refrain of speakers at this meet was that the mindset of those who question the patriotism of minorities and think that they are in one way or the other linked to terrorism in the country needs to be changed. Speakers included Congress leader Digvijay Singh, CPI(M) leader Sita Ram Yechuri, LJP chairman Ram Vilas Paswan, social activist Shabnam Hashmi and CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan. In addition to these speakers, family members of some people who were falsely accused, arrested and subjected to inhuman torture spoke about the woes of their loved ones who were subjected to indignities and torture in jail. On this occasion a book titled ‘What it means to be a Muslim in India’ running into 234-odd pages was released.

Digvijay Singh speaking on this occasion said that terrorism in UP, Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra and other places in India is the product of Advani’s Rath Yatra which he undertook in 1989. He said that though some Hindu organisations have been named in terrorist activities, the RSS is closely associated because all accused persons are in some way or the other associated with the RSS. He accused Hinduatva ideologue Veer Savarkar and said that he was the first person to propound the two-nation theory and it was only later that Jinnah adopted it. This is a historical fact, he said. He also accused BJP-ruled states of sheltering people associated with RSS and involved in bomb blasts, adding that all those who make bombs run away to Gujarat where they are given shelter.

Sita Ram Yechuri, referring to the so-called “crusaders” of freedom like V. Savarkar and B.S. Mooje said that Hindutva’s terrorist face is nothing new. He said that the general impression of people that terrorism is associated with the people of a particular community and religion needs to be changed. He promised that the matter of innocent people being targeted during the process of investigation of cases of terrorism and their release will be raised in the Parliament. He reiterated that Hindutva’s violent and terrorist face is quite old and it is wrong to say or believe that Hindus cannot be terrorists.

Ram Vilas Paswan questioned as to why organisations like the RSS, Bajrang Dal and Abhinav Bharat were not banned? He said that people in Kashmir believe that they are victimised because they are Muslims and since they are from Kashmir, they are branded as terrorists. Criticising police and many people’s mentality of branding Muslims as terrorists, he said that minorities whether Muslims, Christians or Sikhs need to be protected and empowered.

Prashant Bhushan, prominent legal expert, said that even after Aseemanand’s confession we cannot hope that politicians will take any interest in solving the problem of terrorism. He emphasised that government should be pressurised to ensure the release of innocent Muslims. He plainly said that today there is a strong feeling of communalism in Indian police and most of them have the mentality of implicating some Muslim or the other in terrorist activities. He demanded strict action against police personnel of such mentality. He did not spare even judiciary, saying that after framing of charges when the matter goes to court, it should demand concrete proofs but this does not happen.

A.B. Bardhan said that the entire problem of terrorism emanates from former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaee’s statement that all Muslims may not be terrorists but all terrorists have been Muslims. After this statement from a prime minister, guns began to be aimed at Muslims. He said, he will concentrate his attention on three points i.e., all Muslim youths accused and arrested for terrorism should be released immediately, secondly they must be properly rehabilitated and thirdly those police and government officials who are responsible for falsely implicating them in terrorism should be punished. Others who spoke on this occasion included Subhash Ghatade, Amit Sen, Shabnam Hashmi, Tarun Tejpal (of Tehelka), Ashish Khetan.  

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 4

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